An author recently posed this question to me: “Do you think this submission is too negative?” His article was focusing on what metal fabricators do to destroy their machine tools—and he couldn’t have been more correct with his approach.
At least, that’s what servicepeople tell me. They get calls that something is wrong with a machine, and when the investigation takes place—by phone if they are lucky—the problem tracks back to a maintenance issue.
For example, say a metal fabricator is getting some unruly edges on its punched parts—much more than the typical microjoint remnant that has to be ground off. What’s the deal? Someone shows up to check out the situation and finds that the punch tooling hasn’t been sharpened in more than 250,000 hits. Even though clues were evident to the operator, he was more interested in getting parts out. Uptime was of the utmost concern, but now downtime is bringing everyone down.
Sometimes scheduling downtime for maintenance can be very challenging for a metal fabricator. The long-held theory is that if the machine is making parts, it’s making money. But machines rarely are designed to run 100 percent of the time over their lifetime of the machine. In fact, that may be a recipe for shortening the lifespan of a machine.
In these current economic times, fabricators, like other manufacturers, really aren’t interested in adding labor just to satisfy a short-term need. They are thinking long-term. They want to add an employee who can grow with the company and contribute to continuous improvement efforts, not just punch a button and collect a paycheck.
That’s the same attitude these shops need to take with their equipment. They need to maximize their machine tool investment, and adhering to a proper maintenance schedule is the way to do it.
Things change and businesses move. Change and moving aren’t always easy, but acceptance and good planning can help make the transition as seamless and painless as possible. Remember, it is what it is. Make the best of it.
The Tube & Pipe Journal became the first magazine dedicated to serving the metal tube and pipe industry in 1990. Today, it remains the only North American publication devoted to this industry and it has become the most trusted source of information for tube and pipe professionals.